The Benefits of Celebration

Ours is a culture that demands progress. From that we attribute positive identity to people – both our self and others – who produce. One of the drawbacks to this is a continual moving on from one thing to another, whether it is from task to task in our day, moment to moment in our relationships or goal to goal in our leadership. The feeling that we need to constantly produce in order to maintain a sense of self is very draining. There is pressure inherent in that way of living and leading, and it will eventually wear you, and those around you, down to the nub. While pursing awareness of motivation and developing soundness of your sense of self are essential to long term success, having goals and working toward outcomes never stops. An important discipline to not being consumed by goal setting and production is the ability to celebrate. How often do you take time to celebrate milestones? What is your built in plan to celebrate achieving goals? Incorporating celebration is an important part of leading yourself and others. Beyond just having fun, there are many positive results involved with celebrating. 1. Celebration releases stress. In the pressure to achieve, stress and anxiety builds up, often in the background while we are distracted planning and working. Taking time that is not task or goal directed gives the opportunity to release stress in a way that will not be ultimately detrimental to future goals. 2. Celebration provides motivation. In an obvious way, if you know something good is on the horizon, there is motivation to pursue the carrot...

No Images – Identity and the Second Commandment

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. – Exodus 20:4 – 6 In the first post of this series No Other Gods, the point was made that God wants exclusivity. He will not compete for our attention with idols. Within the second commandment, the Lord takes this idea a step further and commands that we not even make an image or likeness of what we assume him to be like. God, the One true God, is our source of significance and wholeness. His truth becomes our truth and the definition of who we are and our purpose in this world. And God is bigger than we are. With regard to our identity – our sense of self and our worth – there are a couple of good reasons not to make for our self an image… 1. When we construct an image of God, we create a caricature of God with which we are comfortable. {click here to tweet that!} This image that we create will not challenge our false sense of self. We settle for something lesser that, by comparison, makes us feel more righteous. God is then created in our image. Like the...

The Power of Unforgiveness

I am not saying that forgiveness isn’t a tough process. Because it is. Restoration from the pain of lost trust, misused vulnerability or betrayed humanity is intentional and filled with grief. There must be awareness of what was lost, mourning the loss before there can be blessing in the new. This is the Paschal Mystery of Christ and Christianity. But what of when forgiveness is withheld or the process of forgiving is not engaged? Just as forgiving another has power, there is power in unforgiveness. When forgiveness is refused to the repentant, that person is being locked into a box of perceived identity. Like Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter, the offense become the label. One woman communicated this to me about her husband, “Cheaters cheat.” This can have effects on the sense of self of the one unforgiven. At some point, having felt the weight of the narrative about them, they may begin to live into this false perception of identity. We tend to believe what we tell our-self, even if it is a lie. I am reminded of the self-narrative a young woman who I worked with once told me, “my dad used to tell me I was a dirty girl.” It’s not surprising that lie became part of her identity. Unforgiveness can influence the mindset and identity of the one who is unforgiven. But the power does not stop there. It is hard to forgive when you are needing something from the other in order to sustain your identity. An inability to forgive and unwillingness to engage the process indicates a potential issue with identity in Christ. Making another work for their forgiveness...

The Paschal Mystery

It’s taken me awhile to type this particular blog. I made my notes for it in my journal December 7th and it’s been a block to me. Haven’t felt like I could post anything else until I get this one out. To me, this one is important and filled with applicable truth. A message that I’ve wanted to get JUST RIGHT (that’s why I made notes), and that is probably why it has taken so long to get it out. Sometimes I do that. In my desire to get things perfect (or as close to perfect as I am capable of), I procrastinate. I rationalize and put things off. My wife would deny emphatically that I am a perfectionist, but for me this is how my perfectionism is shown, avoidance. Here I go. Putting away and attempts at perfection. This is a blog after all. So, the notes I made are away (I did read them though) and I’m just going to type this out “stream of consciousness” style. It’s called The Paschal Mystery. (The mathematician in me wants to type and pronounce Pascal.) Outlined by the early Christian mystics as they identified this clear pattern of life. Paschal means passing, from one state to another, specifically from death to new life. Jesus taught about the Paschal Mystery when he told his followers that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will remain a single seed. But if it dies, it will produce many seeds. Growth and reproduction are outlined in this principle. Then Jesus did something amazing, he lived the Paschal Mystery. He...

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